This is the second-to-last episode, agents, so you know exactly what we’re getting: setup for the finale!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is no Game of Thrones, so the second-to-last episode of any given season isn’t ever really “the episode where everybody dies.” Instead, it’s a much more conventional deal, with everyone getting setup for final confrontations and showdowns, with assorted loose threads being tied up. This half of the season has really been pretty conventional, with a few strange twists and turns here and there. Thing is, though, AoS has actually served as a pretty solid ramp up to introducing a bit of magic and mysticism into the Marvel universe.
Whereas Doctor Strange had that task of bringing it into the movie side of things, AoS has done quite well to fill in the blanks elsewhere. As such, the show continues to carry out its original mission of not only supporting the movies and providing them with a nice backdrop or context, but it also serves as world building of its own.
Anyway, we should get to what you really came for: the recap!
Spoilers. I keep having to say this every week, but spoilers. I can’t help you if you walk into a recap post and think there won’t be spoilers.
This week, the show’s divided pretty evenly between an A and a B plot.
A mostly revolves around the continued search for the Superior, the Watchdogs, and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s inevitable showoff with Senator Nadeer.
B, however, revolves around Coulson’s search for May, and after the number the LMD did on him (and his poor heart), it seems he’s got all sorts of feelings about finding her again. He says so himself in the opening, as he’s talking (ostensibly to himself) about a little voice in his head that’s telling him not to be reckless. Of course, he’s talking to Mack, but he’s also thinking about May.
They’re in Spain, tailing somebody who might lead them to Radcliffe: someone who… looks just like Aida. Whaaat. Obviously this is the “real Aida,” or whatever her name might be. She’s the woman whose face served as the basis for Aida’s. C’mon, you had to know Aida was based on somebody, right?
After a quick cut over to Radcliffe and the Russians, it’s revealed that Radcliffe figured out a way to grow Terrigenesis crystals that are harmless to humans but will trigger a transformation in Inhumans. Hmm…
Elsewhere, Director Mace is undergoing a physical. As we found out a few episodes back, he’s not actually an Inhuman—he’s a regular human who regularly takes shots of a modified super soldier serum that’s only designed for him. Unfortunately, the shots are taking their toll on him, and when he uses them he plays “Russian roulette” with his health, according to Simmons. That sucks, because Mace is all about being a team player, and without his superpowers, he’s having a hard time finding out what his role on the team might be now.
Of course, Mace is also an all-American kinda guy, so he uses football metaphors all throughout the show. Like, constantly. Everywhere. So much so that even I had to stop and wonder how much of AoS was tied in to the Super Bowl this year.
Back in Spain, Phil’s just revealed to the woman (whose name is Agnes) what Radcliffe’s been working on. As it turns out, they used to be very close, until Radcliffe left her over his frustration with his inability to “fix” or cure her of her brain cancer. Really hecking cold, Radcliffe. It’s almost like the show really wants us to give up on the guy. After spending nearly an entire season getting us to come around to him, they’re really just blowing all their gains here. Well, that’s fine, I guess, and it’s a bit easier to dislike the guy now that we know how he broke up with Agnes. Cold, dude.
In Washington D.C., Shockley waltzes into Senator Nadeer’s office, carrying a nondescript black duffel bag (uhh, when has that ever meant good news). Oh, and a terrigenesis crystal key ring. ($14.99 on We Love Fine, coming soon, I’m sure *wink wink nudge*)
He alleges that since Nadeer’s brother was an Inhuman, that she might be as well. He breaks the crystal, and everyone in the room is bathed in the gas. Nadeer… doesn’t transform. But I’ll give you two guesses as to who does, and the first one doesn’t count.
Yeah. Shockley’s an Inhuman. What… a twist, I guess? I mean it seems like a pretty obvious lesson (guy becomes thing he hates the most, where have I heard that before), but what happens next isn’t so obvious: Nadeer’s office explodes.
In the aftermath, Mace, Daisy, Fitz, and Simmons all show up to show how helpful S.H.I.E.L.D. can be. While the FBI isn’t particularly happy they’re there, they do end up getting into some classic AoS-type investigation. It was an unexpected treat to see FitzSimmons back together getting all nerdy CSI-like at a crime scene again. Daisy finds out that Shockley was seen entering the building shortly before the explosion, and so they begin a citywide search to find him through some facial recognition.
Sidebar: while shows like these make citywide surveillance and facial recognition seem like really great things, I find it kind of off putting to hear how casually they mention its use. Like, yeah, I know we’re in a Marvel universe here where the Sokovia Accords exist and yeah, privacy really isn’t a thing here, but it just seems… odd, you know? Anyway.
Shockley ended up back at the Russians’ headquarters in D.C., and he’s interrogated by the Superior as to how he escaped. He lied, saying that Nadeer transformed and then exploded. That real bummer excuse—and the utterly spineless way he said, “You are my superior,”—was enough, though, and he’s let go as the Superior makes a hasty exit, leaving Shockley with a few folks to handle the inevitable S.H.I.E.L.D. raid. Of course, like clockwork (albeit a little late since the Superior’s gone), they come busting through the door and put down the baddies pretty easily.
In Spain, Coulson visits Agnes at her home. He’s determined to find a way to get her to help him. He opens up about how May’s captured, and they share a pretty heartfelt moment together. Agnes gets caught up as to why Radcliffe’s changed so dramatically, and really, Coulson’s comparison of May and Agnes kind of seals the deal. He calls Agnes brave, just like May, and says how they’re both not afraid of death. But May also “deserves the chance to live what’s left of her life on her own terms,” which is exactly what Agnes is doing to cope with her inoperable brain tumor.
I realize Coulson used that language to make a direct parallel or connection between her and Agnes, but it just seems so… eerily foreshadowing for May. I can’t help but read into it, you know?
Up in in the Zephyr, as Daisy interrogates the Russians and Shockley, Fitz and Simmons are checking samples they took from Nadeer’s office, trying to find evidence of a bomb. What they do find, however, points to the fact that there was a terrigenesis husk present, and since Shockley was the only survivor of the blast, well… it means very bad things for everyone on the plane. They get to the cargo bay just in time to yell to Daisy and Mace that Shockley’s a living bomb, and as Shockley goes into his best “I Have to Poop” face, a loud, high-pitched squeal sounds out. It’s Shockley charging up, and after a brief scuffle with both Mace and Fitz (what a hero), he’s placed into one of the containment units and jettisoned off the ship. He explodes just as he’s ejected.
Simmons gets understandably pissed at Fitz for jumping in, but of course, she’s just glad he’s okay. D’aw.
Mace is a bit frustrated at how he didn’t really help a whole lot in that fight because he wasn’t supercharged. Again with the football term, he says he feels like he dropped the ball on this one. Aw.
On the ground, Shockley’s reforming, each of his particles and bits coming back together (behind a very strategically placed piece of debris, of course). As Mace describes later, Shockley’s the “perfect weapon,” a suicide bomber who can walk away from his explosions. They set out to find him and develop a way to contain him. He is, of course, going off to use his power more, because I guess that’s just what you do when you find out you’re an Inhuman, even if you hate the hell out of them.
After calling the Superior with a confession that he’s Inhuman, he doubles down on his promise to deliver S.H.I.E.L.D. to him in spite of his newly inherited Inhuman status.
Gosh, imagine hating yourself so much that you’d still partner up with the guy who wants to eradicate you and people like you from the world. It’s a good thing people like those don’t exist in the real world, huh? Oh… wait.
Agnes arranges a meeting with Radcliffe. Upon receiving her note, Radcliffe freaks out a bit, and leaves the base immediately to meet her. Aida, though, senses he’s being evasive, and questions him about it. As Radcliffe admits that Aida’s face is based on a “real person” (because he was afraid of being stuck in the uncanny valley, boy do I know what that’s like), Aida seems to… well, not take the news well. It’s obvious that the LMDs have trouble distinguishing their thoughts from implanted memories, and while Aida hasn’t shown evidence of having any of Agnes’ memories, her AI is robust enough to inspire these strangely mixed feelings at this revelation.
Coulson and Mack are staking out the meeting, and Radcliffe, who’s late, ends up sending her a cell phone instead. As they talk, Coulson and Mack listen, with Radcliffe promising that he knows of a way to “cure death.” He’s talking about the Framework, the thing he has May trapped in. Radcliffe promises that he can help Agnes live forever, beyond her body. He leads her over the phone to where he’s hiding, and as Coulson and Mack run to intercept, he says that he can help her if she’d just come with him.
Agnes tears out her earpiece, stomps on it, and willingly goes with Radcliffe, jumping at the chance to live. They both end up slipping away from Coulson and Mack.
Meanwhile, in the desert, Daisy moves to intercept Shockley. It’s just the two of them on the secluded highway, and Shockley’s slowly ambling towards Daisy, who’s really just stalling until Fitz can put together a containment unit for Shockley. Just as he finishes, some large headlights come cresting over the horizon—it’s the Russians, and they’re there to trap S.H.I.E.L.D.. Shockley was just bait, a distraction, there to just stall for time.
Daisy uses her powers to vibrate Shockley’s particles, triggering his explosive superpower, which relies on the vibration of his particles. She does this over and over and over again, and Shockley just keeps dying and reviving himself. Mace tells Fitz and Simmons to go on and help Daisy with the finished containment unit. He’s wearing his super suit, which is equipped with a set of super serum injectors. Then, as he tells Fitz and Simmons to go on, he drops another football gem: “I think I’ve figured out my place on the team… I’m the blocker.” Awww. (Isn’t it lineman? Anyway.)
Mace shoots himself up with serum (and it hurts enough to get him to double over, mind you), and he goes charging headlong into the troop truck, stopping it in very Captain America-like fashion. The Superior is there, and as the Russians surround Mace, he decides that he doesn’t really need Fitz, Simmons, or Daisy. Instead, he has them shock baton and capture Mace. Oh, nooooo.
Shockley, who explodes once more thanks to Daisy, is captured in the containment unit as it sucks up the vapors and particles of him that swirl around as he reforms. It’s kind of like if a Ghostbusters ghost trap and the massive bomb chamber on bomb squad trucks had a little baby. Cute… yet terrifying.
Even though Coulson and Mack ended up losing Agnes, Coulson learns that May’s still alive. There were doubts about that as Mack was trying to get Coulson to move on past her, but now that Coulson knows that she’s still alive somewhere, he’s really going to stop at nothing until he can save her.
In the extra scene, Radcliffe uploads Agnes’ consciousness into
the cloud San Junipero the Framework. Shortly after he does, her body dies. But, according to Radcliffe, she can live forever right where she is. He leaves to go elsewhere, and Aida is left alone with Agnes’ body and May strapped to a nearby gurney. She’s fascinated by the ring on a necklace around Agnes’ neck (wedding ring, maybe), and she ends up taking it to wear for herself. Radcliffe’s not gonna be happy about that.
Just before the end, the camera pans over to May, who seems to struggle—just ever so slightly—against the Framework, looking to all the world like she’s stuck in a fitful rest. Hmm!
Quick Take Aways:
- Like I said earlier, this episode was all catch-up, set-up, and loose end-tying.
- Senator Nadeer, especially, met a very anticlimactic end at the hands of Shockley’s Inhuman reveal. For someone who was such a thorn in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s side for this entire season, I totally expected a much more satisfying end for her.
- Seriously though, imagine hating yourself so much that you end up collaborating with the people who want to destroy you and people like you. How very topical for current goings-on, huh?
- I… have not so good feelings as to what might happen to May and/or Coulson. I’ve long held hope for the both of them to get together, but seeing as how neither of them can ever really seem to commit to one another, I don’t expect good things to happen if and when they do (for however brief a time that may be).
- I also do not expect good things for Mace. The poor guy sacrifices himself and is captured by the Superior. There’s no way it ends well for him even if he survives, because the lie his entire career (and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s good Inhuman image) is based on is about to become known to the Russians—and thus, the entire world.
- Fun fact: I was re-watching Band of Brothers this weekend, and I had a bit of a laugh when I realized that the actor who plays Director Mace (Jason O’Mara) played Lieutenant Thomas Meehan from the first two episodes. Seriously, every time I go back to watch that show, I notice someone new.
- Since I know people are going to comment about that: yeah, I know Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, Simon Pegg, Andrew Scott, Jimmy Fallon, Dominic Cooper, Colin Hanks, and James McAvoy were some of the “easy to miss” stars on there, too. Pegg’s Southern accent is gold, too.
Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!
—The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org